Not the F-16, but enough to enjoy
On Saturday 30 August 1975 Volkel Air Base, in the Netherlands, opened its gates for the public. Around 125.000 spectators visited Volkel AB on this hot summers day.
The aircraft enthusiasts really hoped for the presence of the Dutch successor of the F-104 Starfighter. The (Y)F-16 toured Europe to show its capabilities to the (possible) buyers of the aircraft. Two months earlier the (Y)F-16 visited Volkel AB for the first time. Unfortunately, the F-16 was not at the airshow at Volkel and neither at the airshow of Leeuwarden AB, which was held one month later, on 27 September. The audience had to wait until the airshow at Gilze-Rijen AB on 18 June 1977 to see the F-16 with their own eyes.
The static show
Although the F-16 was not on the participants list, and the number of foreign visitors was limited, the airshowwas still worth visiting. The static display was situated on the North side of the airfield in the area now known as “Safari park”. There were only five other nations that displayed their aircraft on the static. The Belgian Air Force was present with a Fouga CM.170R Magister and a Mirage V. The Danish Air Force send an F-100F and a SK35 Saab Draken. The West German Air Force showed a Fiat G-91 from Oldenburg AB and an RF-4E from Bremgarten AB. The Royal Air Force placed three of their fighter aircraft on the static: a Buccaneer, a Harrier and a Lightning. Finally, the USAF came with an RF-4C Phantom, and the US Army showed the remarkable CH-54 Tarhe helicopter. The other planes on the static were all from the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The airshow itself was an almost complete Dutch matter and featured almost the whole inventory of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. First three RF-104Gs from the local based 306 squadron. Followed by a para-dropping from an F-27 Friendship and a pickup of paratroopers by two SAR Alouette III choppers. Then five other Alouette III helicopters in the colors of the temporarily disbanded ‘Grashoppers’ team gave a demo. Next were the NF-5As from Gilze-Rijen’s 316 Squadron. Afterwards the brand-new Bölkow Bö-105C made its first appearance to the Dutch audience. One of two foreign participants in the show was the CH-54 Tarhe, or Skycrane, which traded its place on the static for a place in the airshow. A few times before the takeoff of the CH-54, the announcer made a call to the audience about a wrongly parked Volkswagen car which had to be removed by the owner, or else…. Then suddenly the CH-54 appeared with a Volkswagen Beetle as sling load, the so-called wrongly parked car. The Beetle was released from a great height and smashed to pieces on the ground under loud cheers from the audience. The second foreign participant was the RAF Harrier which was also on the static earlier. The capstone of the show was the mass start of Starfighters from the local based CAV, 306, 311 and 312 squadron. Nineteen F-104s made a few passes and a base attack, and finally one of Starfighters performed a solo display.